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Uprooting: Marriages in Academia

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Kavya Gopal, Regina Marie Lee

Photo by Pareen Chaudhari

Yale-NUS faculty members remain together through change.
Yale-NUS faculty members remain together through change.

“How’d you like to move to Singapore?”

“What, where?”

When Dean of Faculty Charles Bailyn first proposed moving halfway across the world from New Haven, Yale to Singapore in 2009, his wife, Dr. Rebecca Tannenbaum, was a little hesitant. “I didn’t know much about the country at the time. I had all sorts of questions”.

Many faculty members had to move large distances to be teaching at Yale-NUS College today. Uprooting from one end of the world to another is never easy, especially when you have to consider your partner and family.

For some faculty couples in Yale-NUS, the decision was not as difficult. “Given that my dissertation research centred around migration out of Southeast Asia and the fact that I had lived in Singapore for many years, it seemed like a great fit,” said Professor Anju Paul, whose husband, Vice-Rector Eduardo Lage-Otero, applied after she got the job.

Others, like Professors Simon Duffy and Sandra Field, were managing a long distance relationship before they applied and settled at Yale-NUS. “Simon was at the University of Sydney, in the Department of Philosophy on a three-year post-doctorate while I was finishing up my PhD in America” said Field.

Singapore too was an ideal location for them. “It is one of the major centres in the region, a region to which we feel, as Australians, to belong to. We will get the best of both worlds: we will be able to work and raise our children in the rich multicultural milieu of Singapore; while retaining close ties with our families in Australia.”

Tannenbaum too became less apprehensive about moving to Singapore with time. “Since Yale-NUS didn’t formally exist yet, [Charles and I] were nominated before there was a formal process for hiring faculty based on our credentials. Part of the deal was if he’s coming to Singapore, I wanted to have a job too. Once we started talking about the project, what we would be doing, and the fact that I wouldn’t have to learn Mandarin in three years to teach, we were both equally excited!” she said.

As Yale-NUS continues to grow with more job openings, Bailyn explained the college’s policy on hiring faculty couples, “We don’t specifically recruit couples, but when a faculty member whom we are interested in hiring has a well-qualified spouse, we consider them for other positions… When we do hire spouses, we always do so because they are very well-qualified for the job, not because of whom they are married to.”

But what is it like working alongside one’s spouse? Tannenbaum admitted to worrying about complications that could arise. She said, “When at Yale, we were both in completely different departments and hardly saw each other during the workday. Working so closely made me a little nervous. I think it’s really important that we keep my role as faculty and [Charles’] role as a Dean separate, otherwise it could get a little awkward.”

Still, most agreed that having one’s partner in Yale-NUS allowed for more time spent together. Paul said, “The work at Yale-NUS never stops, so it helps to have my husband working in the same building as me, so that we can take breaks during the day to go for a coffee or juice run. If we worked in different places, that would be impossible.”

Duffy pointed out that being in the same workplace makes it easier to care for children. He said, “As academics, it is not a given to have workplaces even in the same city, let alone at the same college. Having your partner in the same workplace means that we can look after sick children and still make it to our seminars.”

Children was definitely a factor that faculty couples considered before moving. Paul explained, “Singapore is incredibly safe, and within Yale-NUS, that sense of security is further amplified. It’s lovely knowing that Sebastian and Paloma have more than 300 big brothers and sisters looking out for them.”

Whether through an introduction at the fiftieth birthday of a mutual professor – Duffy and Field, a meeting in New York City – Paul and Lage-Otero, or a fortuitous blind date – Bailyn and Tannenbaum, the stories of faculty couples here are nothing short of fairytales. Here’s to the addition of a new and exciting chapter in their lives.

Losing school IFG virginity

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David Chappell

Photo used with permission from Julianne Thomson

The Yale-NUS dodgeball team celebrates their success in the IFG.
The Yale-NUS dodgeball team celebrates their success in the IFG.

With the end of Yale-NUS College’s first Inter Faculty Games in sight, our sweaty and exhausted sports teams can look forward to a well deserved breather, after finishing on a high note. The opportunity to compete against NUS’s various faculties, with over six years of experience and student bodies twice the size of Yale-NUS, has proven a unique challenge and one that our college has risen to with vigour and goodwill, achieving a number of successes.

So far, Yale-NUS has placed in the top four of two of their 16 events, with a first and second in dodgeball and reversi respectively. This number is set to increase on Friday, when the men’s basketball team play in the final of their event, having topped their group and beaten the Faculty of Medicine in the semi-final.

Other sports too have enjoyed a good rate of successes. Women’s soccer narrowly missed out on a place in the semis due to goal difference. Similarly, women’s basketball won two of their four games, just short of qualifying for the semi-finals. Men’s soccer, badminton, tennis, netball and floorball also enjoyed their own triumphs, each winning one of their respective matches.

Even teams that were not victorious in their struggles gained a lot from the experience, with the tournament acting as a platform for interested parties to try out new sports. “I like the fact that the college is willing to let us have this kind of event to push us out of our comfort zone,” ultimate frisbee competitor Adam Goh ’18 noted.

The Yale-NUS community spirit, similarly, has been embodied throughout the games, with those more experienced in the sports teaching the less experienced. While some may argue for greater involvement of external trainers, Goh approved of the hands off approach to IFG training, saying, “it was more worthwhile to have the team coached and captained by a student.”

The IFG will be wrapping up the tournament with their closing ceremony on Friday, Sept. 19, as well as the men’s basketball final and some friendly telematch games of fun ball, allowing all faculties to leave the tournament satisfied.

What have we built?

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Daniel Soo || Guest Columnist

Photo used with permission from Yale-NUS Singaporientation 2014

Students, staff and faculty break out in spontaneous dance to “A Community of Learning” at the formal dinner.
Students, staff and faculty break out in spontaneous dance to “A Community of Learning” at the formal dinner.

In 1912, Emile Durkheim wrote about the concept of “collective effervescence” to describe the state of communion of thought, emotion or action. A century and a year later, a Yale professor visited Yale-NUS College and described our community with those very words—collective effervescence. President Lewis thought that apt and two speeches on1 and it seems that Durkheim’s words have since percolated into the cultural vocabulary of our institution.

That Yale Professor did something remarkable that day. He looked at our nascent amorphous community and tried to name something that was shared among us. Quoting Durkheim’s words was an attempt to ground a collection of emotions, behaviours and experiences to a discrete concept. “Collective effervescence” thus became a visible and transmittable placeholder of meaning, something we could grab at and connect our experiences to. With the recognition of this shared cultural trait, we nudged just a little closer towards defining ourselves as a community and institution.

Culture is inevitable; it forms regardless of intentionality. Culture is also most often the uncoordinated result of happenstance and the organic alignment of people, systems and shared experiences. Perhaps it is culture’s propensity for emergent self-organisation that makes it so easy for an institution to take culture for granted. Culture is powerful, yet we often don’t pay enough attention to it – we hold each others hands and stumble on until someone thinks to ask, “Wait…just how did we get here?” The scary thing is that sometimes we don’t even know where here is.

We often think of ourselves as culture creators on a blank slate that is Yale-NUS. What we realise less often is how identifying culture is as important and powerful as the act of creation itself. Just as how our physical campus has shot up, we have mixed our personalities, layed our values, and welded our aspirations together. But what exactly have we built? We need to assess these foundations and pillars of culture together if we are to define ourselves.

Culture often seems nebulous, and therefore knowing exactly what to observe is helpful in making sense of it. An interesting way to demystify cultural phenomena is to look for memes—a term derived by Richard Dawkins from the Greek word ‘mimema’, meaning ‘something imitated’. Memes are “units of cultural transmission”2 which spread from person to person through the process of imitation. Memes typically include ideas, behaviours, norms and mindsets, and possible examples of Yale-NUS memes can include an intellectual focus on East and West, a propensity for spontaneous dancing, or even making bad puns on Facebook. Anything imitable is a meme, and therefore we have to be ready to recognise ‘negative’ memes as well. Dawkins also saw cultural memes as similar to genes in how they self-replicate, pass themselves on, and compete and evolve in response to natural selection. This lens instructs us to look for the most virally imitated (and imitable) memes in the current Yale-NUS environment versus those less so. It is these successful memes that are most likely to define our culture more dominantly and for longer.

Merely observing these memes, however, is insufficient; sharing and discussing them is crucial in recognising our own culture as a community. The notion of ‘collective effervescence’ was propagated because it was so publicly expressed by President Lewis. Similarly, any observation of memes has to be shared for others to agree, disagree, or simply see things from a different perspective. From there, open and engaged dialogue will naturally lead to bigger questions of explaining and seeing patterns within memes and connecting them to a larger cultural consciousness. It is this process that will allow us to cooperatively recognise, name, and own our evolving culture as a community. Only by knowing where we are can we then assess if we are where we want to be – and if not, how we can get there.

Yale-NUS is an exciting experiment in collaborative construction. We—the students, the faculty, leadership and administration— have all contributed to make this school what it is now, and it’s time we take stock of what this means. As we mature as a school and community, let us remember that a beautiful building needs not just builders—but surveyors and architects as well.

1 First Year Assembly Address 2014: Collective Effervescence by President Pericles Lewis. http://www.yale-nus.edu.sg/ newsroom/first-year-assembly-2014/

2 Dawkins, Richard. The Selfish Gene. New ed. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1989. Print.

What’s in a name?

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Saga, Elm and Chendana in action during Singaporientation 2014

May Tay

Photos used with permission from Yale-NUS Singaporientation 2014

Saga, Elm and Chendana in action during Singaporientation 2014
Saga, Elm and Chendana in action during Singaporientation 2014

Saga. Elm. Chendana. These are the new temporary names of the three residential colleges (RCs) in Yale-NUS

College. The announcement was made during The President’s Town Hall with students by the Rectors and Vice-Rectors of all three RCs in the dining hall last Fri, Aug. 29.

When asked how the new college names came about, Rector of Elm College, Brian McAdoo said,“We looked to our neighbours at UTown where the four residential colleges are named after local trees (Tembusu, Cinnamon, Angsana (CAPT) and Khaya (RC 4). We then sought out names that would complement those. [Though] we didn’t want to be exactly like them, we also didn’t want to be too discordant with them. We thought about [using] … local indigenous flowers … but there is something about the growth and strength of a tree that’s nice imagery for a college.”

Student reactions were mixed. “I quite like Chendana, it sounds different,” Marcus Koe ’17 of Chendana college said. Alexander Meyer ’18 of Elm college, however, did not feel the same way. “It would have been nice to have some say [in the naming of the RCs]…people made jokes about Elmo,” he said. Silvia Lara ’18 of Elm college said, “I don’t have a strong opinion…

because these are temporary names…[but] I don’t like how we’re named after trees [the way] other [residences] in UTown are, because that goes against the distinction between Yale-NUS and NUS.” Meyer also felt that students should have been involved in the naming process. “I don’t know how [student input] would be manifested, but…[this process] could have been a way of bringing people closer to the RCs,” he said.

RCs are likely to be renamed after eventual donors. According to Rector McAdoo, the development office is currently seeking donors. On this, Zach Mahon ’17 of Elm college wondered, “Are any of the three donations secured that will go towards naming the RCs?”

The naming of the three RCs comes as the college expands over the summer and prepares to move to its permanent campus in 2015. “As we grow over time, and in preparation for our move, there will be increasing focus on the fundamental role RCs play within Yale-NUS,” Dean of Students Kyle Farley said. “Yale-NUS is still very fluid. My hope is that students don’t feel bound in that everything that’s decided now is permanent.”

Previously, the RCs went by “RC 1”, “RC 2” and “RC 3” respectively.

Lunch Tag: Yale-NUS “Speed-Dating”

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Lunch tag buddies Rachel Quek '18 and Jillane Buryn '18 meet for a meal

Yonatan Gazit

Photo used with permission from Rachel Quek

Lunch tag buddies Rachel Quek '18 and Jillane Buryn '18 meet for a meal
Lunch tag buddies Rachel Quek ’18 and Jillane Buryn ’18 meet for a meal

Lunch Tag, held from Aug. 25 – Sept. 14 among Yale-NUS students, offers the student body a chance to grow closer

through friendly competition. Students can sign up online for the event, after which they are given the name of a fellow schoolmate. The two then share a meal together anywhere and report it online, after which each student gets one point, or two if they choose to upload a photo, and are subsequently assigned a new Lunch Tag Buddy.

The purpose of Lunch Tag, according to Dean’s Fellow Anh Vo, who brought the idea to Yale-NUS, was to “be a fun way for people to meet each other,” she said. “Sometimes it’s hard to just sit next to someone that you don’t know, and you don’t know how receptive they are. When you sign up for lunch tag, you already know [that] the people who sign up want to meet new people, or reconnect with old ones.”

Shreyasa Pradhan ’18 found that Lunch Tag offered her that exact opportunity. “I think it’s worked really well … it’s kind [of] been a way for me to meet new people that I usually wouldn’t reach out to otherwise. And find people who have the same interests as I do, that I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise,” she said.

However, since the website randomly assigns Lunch Tag Buddies, some students have been largely paired with classmates they already knew. Rachel Ong ’17 said, “I have had five sophomores and one freshman. My motive for lunch tag is to get to know freshmen better, that’s my whole agenda, so I think in that sense it has failed because the system keeps assigning me to sophomores.” She added, however, that her Lunch Tag experiences have nevertheless been very positive. “I think it’s good because I [got] to reconnect with some of the sophomores …[who] I don’t know really well,” she said.

Prizes for students with the highest number of points at the end of the competition include a few gift cards, courtesy of the Dean of Students Office. Yet, most students are more interested in the social aspect of Lunch Tag than the competitive one, according to Ong.

During Vo’s freshman year at Yale, her Freshman Counselors ran a Lunch Tag for all first-years at her residential college. The website was later created by Vo’s classmates, Peter Xu ’14 and Harry Yu ’14. “I want to give a huge shoutout to Peter and Harry, they are the ones who really made this happen. Even if I had this idea, it wouldn’t be feasible without the website,” Vo said.

Most of the participants hoped to be paired with students who are not in their own year, in order to get to know the other class better, Pradhan said. A system geared more toward this mentality, according to Ong, could make Lunch Tag a better success if it was repeated. “I would ask ,‘Would you prefer to have lunch with sophomores or freshmen?’ So you would give people a choice. That would enable better matching,” she said.

Vo said that Lunch Tag will most likely repeat, but it is unclear whether it will be on a semester or annual basis.

No Time to Breathe: A DF’s Life

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Yale-NUS has had 15 new DFs on campus since the start of the semester.

Kavya Gopal, Regina Marie Lee

Photo used with permission from Alyson Rozells

Yale-NUS has had 15 new DFs on campus since the start of the semester.
Yale-NUS has had 15 new DFs on campus since the start of the semester.

On a typical day, Dean’s Fellow (DF) Hao Guang meets at least one or two students for one-on-one talks and clocks in two to four hours at the Writers’ Center advising students on their work. In between, he rushes to various meetings with vice-rectors, members of the Dean of Students Office and other DFs, that can take up to two hours each day. On top of that, he has to attend lectures and some seminars with students, such as those in the creative writing module.

“Each day is busy, because DFs get pulled in many different directions,” said Hao. DFs are a unique part of Yale-NUS College compared to other liberal arts colleges, and were introduced to facilitate the growth of the college in her early years. Yet, while most know of their personal DFs as a pillar of support, not everyone understands or agrees with the rationale behind hiring them.

Other than counselling students, DFs also take up associate positions in administrative offices like Admissions, the Centre for International and Professional Experience (CIPE) and the Writers’ Center. DF Sara Amjad, a returning DF, said, “I’m working in CIPE. That’s my 9-5. Evenings are spent with programming for students, talking to them one-on-one, being around, responding to emergencies. You have to very seamlessly flow from one hat to the other. That’s the most difficult part.”

DF Jake Butts agreed, “There is no typical work day. Each one of the seven days in a week looks completely different for me. My iCal is about to break from the amount of stuff in it.”

Yet, while some DFs are very busy, there are others who are less so. Responding to questions about whether DFs get an equal workload, Hao shared, “This is related to associate positions. Some of them started two weeks ago, like the Writers’ Center, and some are just starting now.

“The DFs discussed this amongst ourselves, and we decided that everything balances out in the end. There is a rhythm of how things go — CIPE is busy with Week 7 now, while Admissions gets busy in January, for example. Everyone has busy periods that fluctuate and it’s good that some of us are busy and some of us are not, so that when emergencies happen, we can cover.”

Even as DFs do a lot of work, not all students benefit from or use them as a resource. This is especially true for those who do not rely on DFs for academic and emotional support.

Parag Bhatnagar ’17 felt that DFs are more essential for freshmen than sophomores. He said, “For freshmen I can see the point of having DFs, because they are still settling in. But for sophomores I think the role of DFs is less, because we know each other and bonds have been established. Still, I still find myself going to DFs just to talk, for support. It’s nice to have someone outside of the community, who’s not a student, but who understands what’s happening.”

DFs also play a crucial role that not even upperclassmen may be able to fulfil. Tamara Burgos ’18 said, “It’s always nice to know that you can count on DFs. Sophomores have to do the same things we do, like studying, they don’t really have the time. But DFs are especially here to help you, so it makes them more accessible.”

Molly Ma, a past DF, acknowledged the role of DFs in logistical and administrative aspects of student activities. She said, “In these earlier years of Yale-NUS the DF role is necessary, or at least very beneficial. DFs were a good intermediary between staff, faculty, and students.”

DFs contribute immensely to the college, and not just through counselling students. They help run the various offices like Admissions and the DOS office, with their input enhanced by their close interaction with students. While some may not benefit directly from interacting with DFs, they still impact students all indirectly at least.

Amjad admitted that not everyone recognises the role of the DF. She said, “Last year, we had people thinking, DFs don’t really do anything. It’s not a real job.”

“But I think for me it feels like two or three real jobs mixed together. Especially because none of my hats will know about the other hats.”

On IFGs and Institutions: An interview with Tinesh

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As Tinesh Indrarajah ’17 says, “...we’ve made a point that we can compete.” Photo by Christopher Khew

Raeden Richardson

As Tinesh Indrarajah ’17 says, “...we’ve made a point that we can compete.” Photo by Christopher Khew
As Tinesh Indrarajah ’17 says, “…we’ve made a point that we can compete.”
Photo by Christopher Khew

Here are the numbers again: the Inter-Faculty Games (or IFGs) have been running for seven years, the NUS Medicine Faculty has been established for 57 years, whilst NUS Engineering, the next most prominent undergraduate path, has nearly 6000 students to choose from. This year, for the first time, Yale-NUS has raised its armaments and taken to the IFG arena to claim the coveted Tan Chorh Chuan Trophy.

Something a little less known is that our entire IFG experience has depended upon the Herculean efforts of Tinesh Indrarajah ’17. Part-badminton maestro, part-floorball guru, Indrarajah is also the point of contact of our school and the overseer of every team, training and triumph. This competition has required Yale-NUS to ready competitors for 16 different sports.

Direct as always, he relayed the logistical process like reading a dot-point summary. “The different faculties and Yale-NUS College [decided] on who’s going to host each sport. [Each team had] to decide on shirt sizes, getting teams down, really thinking about what sports [they] can actively participate in.” Indrarajah worked with USP to host the tennis competition and last weekend’s dodgeball series. Where the faculties of NUS would have a committee in place to host an entire day of sport, Tinesh often worked alone or with an assistant.

Any student that participates in clubs and societies at Yale-NUS is all-too-familiar with inconsistent attendance and a lack of people. How pressing were the manpower constraints in organising the IFGs and hosting a competition?

“Manpower limitations only come through on the actual day of execution. Only one man is actually required to host a sport. The greater burden I felt was getting people down for trainings and getting people to help out for trainings. For some of the sports, we didn’t have the given number of people down to train well.”

Maybe the school should’ve helped more in terms of providing better, easier ways to book courts. If we had it at the start of semester … we would’ve done so much better. If everyone had chipped in more it would’ve been much more comprehensive.” Indrarajah added.

That aside, students on the athletics scene have praised the administration for their increasing support in organising competitions, both in Singapore and overseas. Where once sport was not an institutional priority, more teams are feeling compelled to request coaches and form stand-alone teams – as is the case with tennis, rowing, badminton and basketball.

The sentiment from Indrarajah held the same urgency: “At the end of the day, all our athletes want is the opportunity to compete, to be challenged, to see how we fare against our peers. The school should continue encouraging us, pushing us for more friendlies. They should be encouraging the competitive side of sports in this school because when the school gets bigger … it will be a letdown for the whole school if we don’t have a platform to compete, if the administration don’t help out with this.”

For some, progress comes with support, but for Indrarajah – and the many enjoying the fruits of his labour over this final weekend of the IFGs – support will come only with progress. The role of athletics at Yale-NUS is growing in an unexpected way. “I feel the mindset [of the community] is changing. I feel we’ve made a point that we can compete.”

Transman or Transcendental?

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Poster by G Spot

Kaushik Swaminathan

Poster by G Spot
Poster by G Spot

The last week at RC4 featured a barrage of cryptic, and equally intriguing posters along the walls and elevators of the building. G Spot, a community of students who promote diversity and inclusivity, ran an awareness campaign in support of transgenderism using pictures of ordinary men and women such that the viewer would question their limited conception of gender and sexuality. In response, Rakesh Prabhakaran’17, created a series of parody posters of absurd scenarios with tag lines similar to those of G Spot’s.

Presented below are the justifications of both the G Spot staff and Rakesh. Whether one is more provocative than the other, and whether the parody is distasteful is for you to judge. It is presented to you here because there is a conversation that needs to be had – about gender issues, free speech, and the line between comedy and insult.

In a written statement from the G Spot community:

“Our world is heavily gendered, yet not everyone conforms to the public perception of gender. Nor does everyone fit nicely into the female/male binary. We put up the posters to start a conversation within the community about gender identity and expression, in the lead up to a panel discussion we are organizing for 18 September. Does the term “trans man/ trans woman” refer to the gender assigned to a person at birth, or the gender they identify as? Why do many instinctively wonder if one is a “boy or girl” if they see someone who looks different? What exactly is a girl or a boy supposed to look like? What if there are more than two genders?”

Poster by Rakesh Prabhakaran '17
Poster by Rakesh Prabhakaran ’17

In an interview with Rakesh Prabhakaran, Class of ’17, creator of parody posters:

“It was first and foremost, for fun, simply for fun, not with malicious intent, and just out of pure lightheartedness. In addition, I talked to someone a day after the G-Spot posters were put up and they showed me the [Facebook] confessions page and an individual’s negative reaction to the G-Spot’s publicity in the elevator because his/her religious values were not in line with what the posters were pushing forward.

It seems like people have been easily offended by this campaign but what G-spot is doing is really good, they’re putting a debatable issue out — some people don’t feel the same about it but what the group is doing is trying to spread its cause in a non-harmful, Millian manner. In the same way, though the parody posters are lighthearted and possibly crude, it is meant to be satirical and make you reflect on both posters and simply see both as differing views in this important discussion.”

Of Welcomes and Teas

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Yale-NUS' Gourmet Club's inaugural welcome tea

May Tay

Yale-NUS' Gourmet Club's inaugural welcome tea
Yale-NUS’ Gourmet Club’s inaugural welcome tea

Since the Student Activities Fair on Aug. 18, the past two weeks have seen campus life abuzz with Welcome Teas, friendly sports games and first club sessions organised by various student groups.

The welcome teas ranged from cosy informal gatherings to larger scale general meetings, usually accompanied by food. One example was the Singers’ Guild’s welcome tea, which was attended by 40 students from both, the freshmen and sophomore classes. Sau Tsoi’17 , Head of Funding, said, “A couple of us started singing The Confrontation from Les Miserables, which sparked off an impromptu Les Miserables jam, which eventually led to us singing along to Beatles’ hits with Dr. Rosenberg on the piano. This was exactly what we’d hoped for – spontaneous bursts of song, just as if we were in a musical.”

Another interesting tea was the Gourmet Club’s welcome gathering, where those present got to sample a variety of local delicacies bought from famous stalls around Singapore, such as char kuay teow, black carrot cake, goreng pisang and nasi lemak. The club seeks to build a community centered around food through food-related social events for members.

Fatima Ezzahra Daif’18 enjoyed her time at the welcome session for The G Spot, a student diversity group concerned with issues of feminism, gender and sexuality. “We casually talked about what the club is, versus what some people think it is (which I found pretty funny!),” she said.

The Class of 2018 was also heartily welcomed by the sports teams on campus. Subhas Nair’17 shared, “Their arrival was much anticipated, especially by the sports teams in YNC. Now we have healthy competition for places on teams and many more sports ambassadors for the college.”

In addition, many in the Class of 2018 are excited to create new student organisations. The Yale-NUS College Students Facebook page reveals many ideas in the pipeline, from an astronomy club to a scuba diving club.

At the same time, however, Dean’s Fellow Ng Yin Ling thinks extra-curricular commitments should be balanced with enough rest and personal time. To this end, she said, “Be like when you go window shopping—try out as many things as you want, but when it comes to committing your time and resources, choose wisely. ‘Wise’ means what really piques your interest and fires your energy.”

Model Asean Conference

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Model ASEAN delegates vote on the Chairman's Statement in the Membership Council.

Yonatan Gazit

Model ASEAN delegates vote on the Chairman's Statement in the Membership Council.
Model ASEAN delegates vote on the Chairman’s Statement in the Membership Council.

From Aug. 22-24, the Yale-NUS International Relations and Political Association (YIRPA) hosted 154 high school students for a Model Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) conference at the college. Much like Model United Nations (MUN) conferences, the Model ASEAN conference was meant to simulate ASEAN conferences.

YIRPA’s conference was one of the first of its kind, according to Jared Yeo ‘17, the Secretary General of the conference. “It’s not that [Model ASEAN has] never been done in Singapore; it has been done, but it has never been done on a university level, organized by university students, with a slightly more rigorous academic component,” he said.

The conference’s roots can be traced back to a Model UN conference in Taiwan last year which YIRPA attended. “Two of our delegations were in the ASEAN regional forum. And then they shared with us how different it is, and then it just got me thinking,” Yeo said. “We as university students are still very alien to the ASEAN style of debate, then what about high schoolers and people younger than us. So it got me thinking, why not create a Model ASEAN.” In mid March of 2013, a group of members within the club met for the first time to begin planning the conference.

The organizers required delegates to write an essay, explaining why they wanted to participate in the conference, to ensure delegates would come committed and add to the debate. “The quality of the debate was surprisingly good. They were very fluent. Also, very focused. And I think it’s got to do with the application process,” Diamanta Lavi ‘17 said.

According to the organizers, the event was also a great chance to promote the college. “We gave our delegates, the high school students, an opportunity to get to know Yale-NUS and the culture better, from interacting with President Lewis and Dean Farley and hearing from Austin an Admissions talk to speaking to any one of us about what the culture is. We had a dinner and dance at the MPH, we had the first day of council sessions all at [Residential College four],” Yeo elaborated.

YIRPA hopes to make the model ASEAN conference a recurring event for the school and plans to increase the conference’s size next year to about 200 students, according to Yeo. Lavi said she believed the event helped give everyone involved a deeper understanding and appreciation for how ASEAN really works. “ASEAN is by consensus…and most of the delegates are very much used to model UN, so there were a few surprises for them that it has to be a consensus vote, that there has to be no against vote,” she said. “It was very interesting and makes you better appreciate the ASEAN way of thinking and working together.”

Dengue Outbreak on Campus

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Alex Pont '17 takes preventive measures against dengue

Yonatan Gazit, May Tay

Alex Pont '17 takes preventive measures against dengue
Alex Pont ’17 takes preventive measures against dengue

Aaron Lai’18 had only recently returned from his freshman orientation trip when he began to feel feverish.

“At first I thought it was just a normal fever, but … by day three or four of this I went over to the UHC [University Health Centre] and they took blood tests and after a few days I found out I had Dengue,” he said. “I was the second or third registered Dengue statistic in UTown.”

Dengue fever, also known as the bone- crusher disease, is a mosquito-borne viral disease spread through the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito. There is no existing drug cure.

It was a difficult time for Lai, who said, “ I was in a position where I really couldn’t be upright that much, plus when I slept my bones and back muscles were in pretty bad pain.” Associate Dean of Students, Kim Cheah, also came down with Dengue around the same period. “It was really challenging to be hit with dengue, especially at a time when school had just started and so many events were happening. Physically, I was down with a high fever and chills, intense body aches and pain, swollen hands and feet and the need to be horizontal for most of the day,” she shared.

In all, there have been three cases of Dengue within Yale-NUS College, and a total of 50 in the College Avenue East/West cluster, according to the National Environment Agency. This is the first time Yale-NUS has dealt with an outbreak of Dengue fever on campus. The previous Dengue outbreak happened in 2007.

“Right now, Dengue is our top priority, and we are trying very hard with our concerted efforts to fight against Dengue and eliminate Dengue on campus,” said Ms. Radha Pebbisetty, Senior Manager of Safety & Health. Soon after UTown was classified as a high-risk dengue cluster, the college implemented combat measures. Information about Dengue fever and preventive measures was disseminated to the community through email blasts and even orientation slides. All students were given samples of mosquito repellent patches and residential common lounges were stocked with repellants for public use. The frequency of external misting increased from once to twice weekly, and biweekly internal misting was introduced. On Aug 26, two representatives from the National Environmental Agency (NEA) were seen setting up an interactive Dengue information booth in the dining hall.

According to Ms. Radha, Yale-NUS is working very closely with NUS and NEA. There are regular meetings with NUS Crisis and Emergency Management representatives to “strategically discuss the Dengue situation and the path forward in this fight against Dengue”.

Although it is unclear where all the Aedes mosquito breeding spots in the College Avenue East/West cluster are, the new Yale-NUS campus construction site was found to be one of them. As a result, access to the footpath adjacent to the construction site has been restricted. It is, however, not uncommon to find students breaching the safety barriers.

Amidst the undercurrent of anxiety surrounding the Dengue outbreak in UTown, Seung Hee Lee ‘18 is appreciative of the effort taken to control the situation. He said, “I think the school has actually been making a considerable effort to solve this issue. Coming from an international school in Jakarta, Dengue is really common. My high school really didn’t do any of these protective measures so I appreciate what they’re doing here.”

When asked what he would want to tell people about Dengue, Lai said emphatically, “Kill every mosquito that you find. I’ve been exterminating them day in and day out. Don’t become paranoid about it, but do make an effort to make sure there’s nothing buzzing around.” “Dengue was more debilitating that I ever imagined, so stay vigilant and safe where possible. If you show any symptoms, get tested immediately,” added Dean Kim.

At this point in time, the Dengue situation in Yale-NUS is stable and under control. No new cases have emerged since Aug. 20, 2014.

To ice or not to ice?

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Kavya Gopal, Regina Marie Lee

Over the last two weeks, more than 20 students have done it. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has spilled over into Yale-NUS. First, students were challenged by their friends back in the United States. They then tagged their peers, inundating social media feeds with videos of people pouring ice buckets on themselves. Even President Lewis, Rector Mcadoo and Dean Farley completed the challenge after being nominated by students.

There are many variations of the challenge, but most participants choose to pour ice water on themselves, and/or donate to research for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a progressive neurodegenerative disease that eventually leads to death and currently has no cure. They then upload the videos of the act onto social media, nominating other friends for the challenge to ‘raise awareness’ of the disease, or at least the challenge itself.

The Ice Bucket Challenge stands out as a unique and new form of activism due to its viral nature and entertainment value. The ALS Association, a US organisation which receives the bulk of donations from the challenge, reported on Aug. 27 that it had received a whopping $117.80 million (USD $94.3 million) in donations in less than a month. Yet, some concerns have been raised about how meaningful the challenge is. Some who have been tagged have conscientiously refused to join in.

For Julianne Thomson ’18, one of the first at Yale-NUS to undertake the challenge, it was a good way to gain and spread awareness about ALS. She said, “To be honest, I didn’t know what ALS was before, but now I do. Even my friend in Indonesia on  Facebook asked what the challenge was about, so I explained it to him.”

Zach Mahon ’17 was afraid that people would skip his video, so he attempted it creatively – by pouring ice water from the 17 floor of Residential College 4. He explained, “I thought that if it could be a little different, people would actually watch the video instead of scrolling past. I also made sure to talk about how important it is to donate.”

In response to criticisms that the challenge is a lazy form of activism,  Mahon said, “At the end of the day, the numbers back up the success. The ALS foundation received much more in donations compared to the same time period last year.”

Still, Ami Firdaus ’17 raised good point about how such foundations use their money – “You don’t necessarily know where your money is going, so I don’t think it’s a very informed way of supporting the cause. It’s very easy to say that you support the cause by pouring water on yourself and thinking that you’re giving ALS publicity, but I think most people don’t even donate.”

Such quick, emotionally motivated donations may counterintuitively prevent donors from critically engaging with the issue. Silvia Lara ’18 explained, “All of my friends have done it, so I feel like they already know about ALS. I also felt like many were just doing it out of peer pressure.” She had declined to do the challenge.

Yet, others felt that doing the challenge was important in addition to donating, because the videos helped to highlight the cause to one’s network of friends. Alex Pont ’18 said, “At first I thought doing the challenge wouldn’t make a difference and that it was only for fun, so I made a donation instead. But after watching more videos, I realised how powerful [a viral video is] and decided to do it.”

President Pericles Lewis, who was nominated by Muhd Amrullah ‘17, also accepted the challenge. In response to concerns of water wastage arising from the challenge, he said, “It is very important to give clean water to people who don’t have it, but we are not wasting water that would otherwise go to help people in those situations. I’m sure we consume much more water when we take a shower than used in this challenge.”

For Rector Brian Mcadoo, his decision to do the challenge a second time in Yale-NUS was a conscientious one. “This particular methodology has raised a staggering amount of money for something most people hadn’t even heard of. Without doing the silly gimmicky thing, it wouldn’t have gone as viral. If we can figure out how to tap into that energy for other causes, that would be a good way of using social media to change the world.”

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge brings up several questions about effective activism. Does dumping a bucket of ice on yourself make a difference? Is raising awareness simply about stating the name of the organisation but giving very little explanation for its activities? Does activism on social media bring about sustained and meaningful change?

The nature of activism has definitely transformed. But it is important to ensure that our actions as activists are meaningful and thoughtful, not just feel-good fun.

Letter to the Editors

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It was heart-warming for me to see Raeden and Aaron voice out such ardent school spirit. I too am tired of having to explain again and again that Yale-NUS isn’t an NUS faculty, and I too want to see Yale-NUS stand in equal with other universities in Singapore.

I, however, did not have the privilege of “rejecting prestigious universities around the globe” to come here; I was also lucky enough to have my parents be only 3000 kilometres away. I also feel that, somewhere amongst the 30,000 students at NUS, there are too those who took risks, who chose to be a part of NUS because they, like Raeden, wanted to be different.

I guess my qualm lies in the pronoun “we”—it assumes the identity and voice of a collective that may or may not have shared an individual’s experience and sentiments. I personally did not feel comfortable identifying with that “we”—a “we” that trivialised the experience of my friends at NUS. And so, I sincerely hope that, if and when PANOPT feels the need to speak on behalf of another, its writers and editors will do so with extreme humility, because everyone has his/her own stories, and these stories should be told with respect. —Hoa Nguyen ’17

Spirit of the Independent Course

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Yale-NUS professors engage in intense discussion

Graham Link || Guest Columnist

Yale-NUS professors engage in intense discussion
Yale-NUS professors engage in intense discussion

2MC (Modular Credits) Independent Courses are arguably one of this college’s most compelling benefits. The opportunity to propose, build and shape your own course is simply unique in higher education. These courses erase our major labels and grade anxieties, allowing us to pursue knowledge with no other purpose beyond itself. In short, we become learners before students. There is a certain purity about the whole idea.

But all this could soon change. On Aug. 19, 2014, the Curriculum Committee laid out a new policy on Independent Courses.1 Unfortunately, although some reasonable points on formal assessment and overloading are made, there are also some serious restrictions introduced as follows:

(1) All so-called ‘2MCs’ must now be capped at five students. If more than five students are interested in a course, it is up to the professor to whittle it down “by any criteria they desire”.

(2) Enrolment in 2MCs will now take place through the standard add/drop system used for all other courses.

These restrictions are cause for concern. Arbitrarily limiting class size to ‘X’ number of students is counter to the spirit of the 2MC courses, where desire to learn should be the only selective criteria. The new restrictions cite space limitations and the absence of Committee review to justify X=5. But neither of these reasons are satisfactory. First off, students who take 2MCs are passionate. Practical concerns such as space will not stop them – a classroom is just Starbucks minus frappuccinos. This problem will of course be resolved in the new campus.

On the issue of curriculum review, we must remember that these are independent courses. Their content is student proposed and designed according to personal interest – indeed this is one of their primary benefits. Imposing a requirement for Committee review would become a limiting hurdle and stub out proposals before they gain legs. Separately, it’s inevitable that more than five students will participate in 2MCs anyway, if the professor will have them. If there are eight interested students, three will just have to audit. Being truly curious, they won’t miss the credits. Five (possibly random) students will get credit for their passion while the others will not. If there are to be size restrictions, they should be left to individual professors. They should not be imposed from the top across the board.

As for the new enrolment procedure, if the course registration process becomes just another online ‘add/drop’ listed alongside every other course, we risk diminishing the proposal process. We lose the fun of the chase. For me, crafting these courses has offered just as much value as the courses themselves. Collaboration with interested peers and professors toward your own curriculum is extremely rewarding. But under the new policy, students may no longer need to have a personal hand in this process. Instead they will simply sign up after the fact when it’s all already said and done.

To address both of these issues, I suggest that we distinguish between faculty and student proposed 2MC courses. Use the public ‘add/drop’ system only for faculty proposed courses such as ‘Math for Economics’. Retain the current ad hoc system for student proposed courses. This would both ensure student involvement in course proposals, and allow every student who contributes to a course proposal to receive their rightful credit. Separate kinds of courses deserve separate policies. Annette Wu ’17, current student in a 2MC course, sums it up thoughtfully: “Yale-NUS is about doing things differently and if administrative barriers are enforced at the sacrifice of an amazing, view-changing, totally unique course… it would be a real waste of our pioneering potential… We clearly care about our education, and we know our professors truly care for us. Why not make the most of it?”

  1. Yale-NUS Registry. “2 MC Courses in Semester 1 (AY 2014/2015 – Aug-Dec 2014).” Message to the author. 19 Aug. 2014. E-mail.

Letter to the Editors

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letter Aaron Kurzak ’17


The PANOPT editors have done an excellent public service in publishing Mr. Richardson’s article. The controversies arising from its frank statements highlight the fact that the author has succeeded as a journalist of a true STUDENT publication by feeling the pulse of our community and diagnosing an issue that lies at its very heart. This gives us the opportunity to engage in an respectful debate, not one cloaked by anonymity. In honour of our liberal arts education, we must value the eccentric opinion of any individual as a means of continuously questioning our own beliefs.

To this end, I would like to introduce an even more radical idea than simply triumphing in the IFGs to remind NUS of our independence: as a collective, we have the power to make an unmistakable statement by boycotting the IFGs. As much pleasure as participation would give us from a sportsman’s perspective, it triggers off a chain of tacit consent to being considered a NUS faculty. We can quell this problem especially in the field of sports, where our “institutional identity” is shaped most transparently. To fully achieve our aspirations as a unique, trailblazing community, we must safeguard our institution in full independence. Today, Yale-NUS is in those most critical first stages, about which Tocqueville writes: “Peoples always bear some marks of their origin. Circumstances of birth and growth affect all the rest of their careers”. In this sense, our affiliation with NUS and its distinct–old– structures must not be “parental” if we want to develop our very own character and culture.

We should regard NUS as an architect of our school’s foundations, who now hands down proprietorship to us, the staff and students of Yale-NUS.

The Arts expand at Yale-NUS

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story Yonatan Gazit | May Tay

Left to right: Dr. Jason Carl Rosenberg, Heidi Stalla, Professor Mark Joyce and Dr. Nozomi Naoi (front)
Left to right: Dr. Jason Carl Rosenberg, Heidi Stalla, Professor Mark Joyce and Dr. Nozomi Naoi (front)

Four new professors joined Yale-NUS’s Art’s Department in the 2014 Fall Semester, including the first Department Head, to help establish the school’s Arts Department, according to a press release by the college. A few Yale-NUS students say they have hopes for what the department can bring to the school, and how it will play a role both within and outside of the classroom.

The new department head, Professor Mark Joyce, along with three other Assistant Professors, Heidi Stalla, Jason Rosenberg, and Nozomi Naoi, will join the Arts Department at Yale-NUS this semester.

David Chia Jun Weng’17 is excited that the new faculty will provide new learning and mentoring opportunities for students interested in the arts. “For sure, I’m excited about being able to engage in conversations with more professors who share similar interests as I,” he said.

According to Professor Rajeev Patke, Director of the Division of Humanities, the new department will not only help promote the arts throughout the college, but also further develop the school’s liberal arts curriculum. “You can’t have a liberal arts college without a rich, robust arts program. It cannot just be a good, robust curriculum, it also needs a set of co-curricular and extracurricular opportunities,” he said. “The liberal arts experience is both what goes on in the classroom, and what you do with the rest of the time you’re in college.”

The arts department will offer more opportunities in theatre, music, creative writing and the visual arts, according to the press release. Dr.Rosenberg, Director of Student Music, said he hopes to create a diverse music culture at Yale-NUS, with community events, such as “an annual concert series featuring members of the Yale-NUS community, the greater Singapore community, and world-class musicians and performers.”

Chia, who is enrolled in Rosenberg’s Integrative Music Theory course, said he is excited for the new possibilities the Arts Department brings. “A semester from now, I can see myself doing a photography course, a pottery course, an acting course, visual art course … the possibilities of artistic engagement is just exciting!”

The department also hopes to help build collaborative relationships with NUS faculties. “We have great opportunities for collaborating with theatre studies students at NUS and bring them over sometimes. It’s a large, complex vision of how the Arts will grow,” Patke said. Rosenberg hopes that this relationship will extend beyond NUS, to other schools in singapore as well.

Although currently, the arts are featured little in the common curriculum, students feel that its inclusion may be enriching. “I suppose [arts are] not an obviously employable skill. We could decide that it doesn’t add to the academia of the place, which is why it should be taught as elective only. Or, you could argue that we aren’t here necessarily for employable skills we’re here to develop as human beings,” Jamie Buitelaar’18 said.

Heidi Stalla has her own research project exploring the benefits of incorporating the arts into Literature classes. “Students replicate the form of a written text as closely as possible by translating it through the language of performance, dance, visual art, or music—before attempting any act of interpretation,” she said. “This process has shown to deepen overall understanding and appreciation of texts, especially texts that are considered esoteric.”

The department will also try to embody part of the school’s motto, “In Asia, for the World,” by incorporating different geographical and temporal periods of art into its curriculum.  “The historical and geographical planning part is simply this: we want people who specialise in the contemporary and the modern, and we also want people who specialise in the premodern,” Patke said. “As for the geographical dimension, we don’t want people who simply specialise in western or eastern art. We want art from all parts of the world.” Rosenberg said he hopes to model the Music Department based on this ideal. “I will strive to make the diversity and vitality of the music program reflect the diversity and vitality of the student body,” he said.

Yale-NUS already has an exceptional arts community, according to Buitelaar, and the addition of the Arts Department leaves it’s future looking bright. “Frankly it’s one of the best arts communities I’ve ever seen, and I mean ever,” she said. “The kind of community that supports each other, and when people have ideas no one shoots them down, they try to see how they’ll work, that’s amazing to me.”

In Defence of Free Speech

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story Kaushik Swaminathan


Yale-NUS is an infant born from the womb of over four hundred years of collective academic excellence in Asia and the United States, and it is a child that often asks questions the adults don’t have answers to. In the three years since its inception, the school has redefined what it means to be a liberal arts institution and it has done so on the shoulders of giants, borrowing from the infrastructural establishments of NUS and the interdisciplinary academia of both Yale and NUS, all the while carving a unique identity for itself independent of the two schools. As a microcosm of the entire world, far more than either one of our parent universities, Yale-NUS is founded, built, and run by a community truly embodying eclecticism and as a consequence, every individual here has a different perspective on how the school is run and what its future should look like. As one of the many mediums to express our angst or approval, student publications have a responsibility to adhere to the principles of journalism and publish even the most incendiary of materials, provided there is merit for it.

There remains a common misconception that PANOPT, the first student publication on campus, is a newsletter monitored by the administration of our school; this is no longer the case. As an independent student publication, it has the authority – and responsibility – to publish any material that informs the student population of a concerned viewpoint, regardless of whether a significant majority disagrees with it. In fact, that is what makes our school so special. The vision and mission statements (specifically from the faculty’s point of view) explicitly acknowledge the importance of freedom of expression, why there can be “no questions that cannot be asked, no answers that cannot be discussed and debated.”

Student publications, much like PANOPT, are in a position of power to deliver news in a large-scale and influential manner, and in doing so, every publication acts as an independent monitor of power. In exploring views on the school administration, its policies, and general conflicts on campus, PANOPT provides the community with a reliable and diverse position on those whose power and actions affect us most. The active participation of our student body in the evolution of our academic, fine arts, and athletic departments signals that nobody here is apathetic and will let change take over them unquestioningly. Along this long and convoluted road to defining the identity of our institution will be roadblocks that divide us, and in such a time, a student publication’s loyalty is first and foremost to its community. While news organizations and publications represent many constituencies, be it a corporation or college administration and parent institutions (in our case), the journalists in said organizations must maintain an allegiance to the community and the larger public interest if they are to provide the news without fear or favor.

Perhaps what is most obviously being forgotten in the entire conversation on independent publications and their right to comprehensive and proportional reporting is that the reader is allowed, and often, even encouraged to disagree with the content that is being put forth. But when it is done in a disrespectful and insincere way, not only is it shameful on the very concepts of liberty and freedom of expression our community so proudly attempts to embody, but it is also misrepresentative of the character of our cohort. “If liberty means anything at all,” as George Orwell says, “it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

Beach Games

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story David Chappell


Yale-NUS students at the U Sports Beach Games
Yale-NUS students at the U Sports Beach Games

On Saturday, 16. Aug approximately 20 Yale-NUS freshmen and sophomores, many still nursing hangovers from the night before, were roused from their beds in the early hours of the morning. The reason? The U Sport’s 2014 beach games.

Every year, teams from across Singapore and neighbouring countries descend on Sentosa beach for a day of sun, sea, sand and sweat. This year three Yale-NUS teams joined them, specifically to compete in the dodge ball tournament.

Easily the least experienced teams in the whole event—with only one training session under their belts—the odds were stacked against Yale-NUS. The three teams fought hard, but sadly were only able to win two of their games, one of which was against another Yale-NUS team. This resulted in them being knocked out in the first round. Nevertheless, the competitors still had a great deal of fun, with the early knockout providing an opportunity to relax on the beach and soak up the sun.

The players remain optimistic about future dodgeball competitions and are confident that they will perform better in upcoming tournaments.

Yale Short Courses

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Yale-NUS sophomores in discussion during a short course. (Aleithia Low)

story Yonatan Gazit | May Tay


Two weeks before classes began for the sophomores at Yale-NUS, seven Yale professors made the trip halfway around the globe from New Haven to Singapore. They were here to visit the Yale-NUS and NUS campuses, as well as to teach mini-courses for the Class of 2017. These classes lasted from August 6–14, and their diversity was evident in titles ranging from ‘How to Find an Asteroid’ to ‘Reimagining Bruce Lee: A Writing Workshop’ and ‘The Moralities of Everyday Life’.

President Pericles Lewis leading seminar discussion in the course "Joseph Conrad and Southeast Asia"
President Pericles Lewis leading seminar discussion in the course “Joseph Conrad and Southeast Asia”. (Aleithia Low)

The courses were created to strengthen Yale-NUS’s connection with one of its two parent colleges, Yale University. “One of the things we’ve been concerned about all along is making sure we take good advantage of the resources of both our parent institutions, Yale and NUS. With NUS, partnerships can happen more conveniently and almost automatically because we are just across the bridge. With Yale, we need to put in some extra effort,” Dean of Faculty Charles Bailyn said.

These courses were exciting for both the students and professors involved. Natalie Tan ’17, who attended Professor Rick Prum’s course on the ‘The Evolution of Beauty’, elaborated, “It was inspiring to meet someone so passionate and dedicated to something. [Professor Prum] was telling us that he has been an avid bird watcher since he was eight… and he has kept the excitement ever since.”

Christian Go ’17 said that Professor Guiseppe Mazzotta taught him a lot in his short course, ‘Dante’s Divine Comedy’. “I thought we would be doing a lot of the things we did during LitHum, such as close reading and text analyses…but what enriched our experience was Professor Mazzotta’s expertise as an Italian Studies scholar. He really emphasised the context of the Comedy,” he said.

The professors, too, were impressed. “[The students] so outperformed my expectations that it stunned me on a daily basis. They were wildly inventive,” Professor Matthew Polly, who taught ‘Reimagining Bruce Lee: A Writing Workshop’, said. “One student did a mock tabloid interview, another a screenplay where Bruce Lee didn’t die, and yet another a musical. One…decided to write a brilliant rap song from Bruce’s perspective. And as if that wasn’t enough, he then laid down the track with a vocal assist from his classmate.”

Yale-NUS sophomores in discussion during a short course
Yale-NUS sophomores in discussion during a short course. (Aleithia Low)

Some students, however, felt the courses could have been better executed. “The course was structured and taught haphazardly; it tried to cover too long a timeline and too much ground…Professors should take into account the fact that it’s a short course—6 days—and focus on specific content or themes,” Toh Hui Ran ’17 said.

Overall, the courses were a learning experience for all members of the college, be it students, faculty, staff or visitors of the college. Tan agrees, “I do feel like it was less of a course and more of an engaging experience.”

Editors’ Note

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Octant

A week after the first issue, all newspapers have disappeared from their boxes, several emails have popped into our inbox and many conversations have erupted in the dining hall. We look back and think: this is the kind of critical discourse our community needs, and which PANOPT is committed to.

We realize certain individuals in our community disagree with some views expressed in the last issue. Yet as an independent paper on campus, this is inevitable. We will often publish opinions that do not resonate or sit well with everyone. We will even go as far as to say that we welcome these opinions, since these are the articles that spark conversations and make us reflect deeper about our community.

PANOPT is a platform for all voices— from the loud voices to the whispered ones. A newspaper that only sides with the majority is not representative of its community. Moving forward, we welcome guest columnists to write in to us, and we will soon launch a website where these invigorating discussions can occur online.

This issue onward, we will also be introducing a Letters to the Editors section. For every future issue, should you wish to share your opinion on a public platform, please write in to yncpanopt@gmail.com by Friday, 5PM. We do not publish anonymous letters, and each letter has a maximum word count of 200 words. We also want to stress that readers should criticize the arguments expressed, and not the writer. Personal attacks only reflect badly on you, and the ad hominem fallacy is inexcusable. Due to space constraints, we may not publish every letter.

For our last issue, despite having multiple individuals contact us with praise or criticism, we only received one letter to be published, which is on the last page. We urge readers to go beyond private conversations and voice these views with the rest of the community. We look forward to hearing from you.

Joyan and Spandana
Managing Editors of PANOPT

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